S. Sudan: Demands for sanctions as links to war exposed

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President Salva Kiir

The international community must do more to tackle networks of corruption that are fueling violence in South Sudan, according to campaigners.

The call follows the publication of a report detailing how corporations have profited from the country’s civil war. The investigation by The Sentry organisation — co-founded by actor George Clooney — shows the links among armed groups involved in the civil war, global oil giants, and British and American citizens.

May 2013 in Upper Nile State, South Sudan. Celebrations are staged to mark the reopening of the Palouge oil field. Government ministers pose alongside Chinese workers and executives from Dar Petroleum — as the oil pumps are switched on in the world’s youngest nation. Months later, a brutal civil war erupts, killing hundreds of thousands of people.

At a news conference last month in London, The Sentry group outlined how Dar Petroleum played a central role in the conflict. John Prendergast is the group’s co-founder.

“Dar Petroleum is owned by some of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world — China National Petroleum Corporation, Sinopec and PETRONAS from Malaysia — and they are all complicit here. These multinational companies are not just passive beneficiaries of a horrific status quo. They have actively participated in the destruction of the country. They’ve supported deadly militias; they’ve seriously polluted the environment. And they paid off government officials along the way,” Prendergast said.

Civil war

South Sudan was plunged into war in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Clooney says the conflict was fueled by global graft.

“They received money, oil, transportation and weapons from a vast array of people and corporations all over the world who have profited from this crisis.” 

The Sentry’s Debra Laprevotte outlined how corruption drove the civil war.

“A company owned by President Kiir’s 20-year-old daughter and her foreign business partners obtain a mining license in a territory in which the government’s military, which are under the control of her father, President Kiir, later drove thousands of people from their homes,” she said.

Corruption is part of the system across the region, says analyst Rachel Ibreck of the University of London, author of the book “South Sudan’s Injustice System.”

The Sentry report says two British citizens formed an oil company with a general who is accused of forcibly recruiting child soldiers, and details how Ara Dolarian, an American arms dealer, allegedly tried to sell $43 million worth of weapons to rebel South Sudanese General Paul Malong. (

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